The Eurovision 2009 contest had some great and not so great parts to it.
First with the good stuff. The Russians get major major kudos for hosting the show. The stage was the most spectacular I have seen in my life. The entire floor and back curving wall is a giant video screen. There were also large hanging screens as well (as well as fire and fog effects). This enabled acts to project images around them and some used the new technology very effectively to create an enveloping environment. Russia also had cute and creative segways using book type pop ups in women´s hair. In all a first class production.
The quality of the shows was very high this year. I have seem other Eurovision contests with a lot of songs and performances that were forgettable, but this year there were many that are memorable. None was bad, so any rankings are relative. But, still some did better than others so for me the range was from good/OK/competent to really impressive.
Now to some of the bad news. Much of the judging seemed almost random with a few mediocre acts getting high marks while high quality ones were relegated to the bottom. The strangest thing for me was the overwhelming victory of Norway with an act which I thought was only middling. It was decent but nothing special.
In my criteria what I am looking for is something classically Eurovision: entertaining, visually appalling, likable music, creativity with quality performances, attractive people, costumes and backgrounds, something new, and an effective overall integration of the parts.
The greatest injustices were the following which all scored low:
-Germany, which I though had the best or one of the best acts, with a catchy likable 1040s inspired song, creative costumes, snappy choreography, sexual daring and overall style. My only possible suggestion is that the main singer´s shiny silver pants were a bit much and he was the only one whose clothes did not match the theme. Still, I would have placed Germany in 1st or 2nd place.
-Sweden, which probably should have been tops, with a creative enjoyable opera-pop song, and a very effective color scheme of black and white.
-Romania, which had a nice song and very beautiful backgrounds and costumes which all integrated into a theme.
-Spain, which had a good but not stellar performance, but did not deserve to be in the second to last position.
-Finland, which despite a few problems with stylistic integration, had one of the best songs and did not deserve to be dead last.
It is sad that such high quality over all was marred by bad judging.
Now to the over rated group which included:
-France, with a classic cabaret torch song. It was well done, but did not inspire me. There was only one singer, and the background was average, I did not like her dress, the super serious style did not seem to fit the Eurovision ambiance, the melody was not pleasing, and I did not care for her dress. In sum, a competent performance, but out of place and especially uncreative. It seemed as if they had put very little effort into the act and just used a classic stock French performance to fill the time. They did not deserve such a high score.
-Russia with an artistically well done performance, but far too serious. It was in Russian and I was left wondering why the huge image of the singer ended her performance sobbing. I think such acts have a place in serious artistic venues, but it was too much of the singer baring her tortured soul to fit into Eurovision. I also did not like the singing style, or the dress, or the tattoo. The only thing creative about it were the giant hanging video screens of the singer which were impressive. They also did not deserve their relatively high mark.
The following were all ranked more or less decently.
-Azerbajan did a nice number and got high scores with a catchy song and the prettiest singer and dress of the whole competition. I did not like the outfits of the dancers and the song is a bit repetitive at the end but in general very likable.
-Albania did a decent number with a cute girl and a likable song.
-Greece gave a nice performance with a lively catchy pop song. The singer transmitted a lot of passion in his singing.
-Denmark had an unusual performance with a classic rock-country band and no dancer or visuals. Still it was a thoroughly enjoyable song with a good performance.
-Armenia gave an interesting performance in their classic folk dress. It was well done but did not especially inspire me.
-Croatia had a song I did not particularly like, but it was well enough done. They had a nice background but the effect did not go well with the singer´s costumes.
-Estonia has a nice low key classy performance.
-Ukraine, on the other hand, had a wild woman with a really rockin´ performance. It was a bit over the top and some might even call it vulgar, but I have to give it points for sheer energy, spunk and creativity.
-Bosnia Herzegovina gave a decent performance with interesting 18th century costumes and a dramatic red background.
-Iceland gave a nice performance with a likable song and an impressive background which enveloped the singers in a fantasy land like environment. With only about 300,000 people Iceland deserved to be in a top ranking and managed to produce a much better performance than infinitely bigger countries like France and Russia.
-Malta gave a very simple performance with just one singer and no props. Still, considering the limited set up, she gave an inspiring performance while enveloped in a likable background.
-Turkey did a good job with interesting costumes and dancing.
-England gave a classy performance. It was nothing too special but generally well done and likable if not overly inspiring.
-Finally Lithuania did poorly-relatively speaking-with uninspiring visuals and a song style I did not care for. It was perfectly well executed musically but in general did not inspire.
This is my personal list. Of course it is subjective and many of the acts were difficult to compare since they are so different. Here goes:
Here are a few videos for you to decide: